Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.
Tuesday, October 29
The annual 17th Street High Heel Race takes place at 9 p.m., but everyone knows that the fun carries on long after the winner has been crowned. At Cobalt, the Race after-party stretches over three floors, with DJ Keenan Orr dropping retro hip-hop and R&B, Mad Science spinning Top 40 and Sean Morris handling house music. The party starts as soon as the race ends, and there's a $5 cover all night.
Wednesday, October 30
Just in time for the Tuesday opening of Bluejacket, Washington is awash in beer festivals. First up is OktoRAREBEERFest at Jack Rose, which has a stellar list of 20 rare and wonderful beers on tap. The highlights are numerous: Versions of DC Brau Corruption IPA and Aviator's Hot Red Red aged in Willet Rye barrels; a three-year-old Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA aged with Brettanomyces bruxellensis yeast for 18 months, blended with fresh IPA and left to age for another year; kegs of Allagash's 2013 editions of Saison Rye, Hugh Malone and Fluxus. (Click on the event link to see the full lineup.) Here's the best part: From 5 to 6 p.m., all beers will be half-price.
The jack-o’-lantern you carve at Helix Lounge’s pumpkin-carving contest might be the easiest you ever create: The pumpkins are pre-scooped, and every team receives idiot-proof safety tools. Prizes include a weekend night at the Helix Hotel for the best overall design and a $50 gift certificate to the lounge for the top “locally themed” pumpkin featuring a Washington landmark or politician. The contest, now in its ninth year, is free to enter, but get there early: Thirty pumpkins will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Pumpkin beers and pumpkin-spiced cocktails are served at happy hour prices until 9 p.m.
Live out your Duckie Dale or Cameron Frye fantasies at Penn Social's Hughesoleum. This dance-party tribute to revered '80s director John Hughes includes a costume competition with prizes for the best male and female characters from a Hughes movie. There's no cover, so you can splurge on the perfect "Pretty in Pink" prom dress.
After a self-imposed four year hiatus, neo-soul star India.Arie is effortlessly picking up where she left off. Her new "Songversation" album is full of breezy confessional R&B ("Your love is like cocoa butter on my heart" she croons on "Cocoa Butter") and love songs salted with acoustic guitars. "Just Do You," a perky self-motivational anthem that borrows the hook from Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," will have the crowd dancing in the Warner Theatre aisles.
Thursday, October 31
There are so many Halloween options that we've created a whole separate post . One that bears repeating:
The Park at 14th is hosting Halloween parties Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and the club is starting off with a bang: Drake will be the special guest host after his Verizon Center concert. If you ever wanted to dress up as a character from "Degrassi: The Next Generation," this is your chance. Doors open for happy hour at 5 p.m., and admission is free if you're stopping by for drinks and dinner; guarantee your spot by calling for a reservation. The official party for Drake starts at 10, though the man himself won't be by until his concert finishes. Admission is $50, and you can skip the line by buying a ticket in advance.
Friday, November 1
Holy Ghost's straight-from-the-80s mix of percolating basslines, haunting synth flourishes and relentlessly funky drum machine disco have them primed to take LCD Soundsystem's place as the hippest (and most hipsterish) dance act in New York City. Catch the beat during a special late show at the 9:30 Club.
Celebrate Jammin' Java's 12th anniversary at a freewheeling concert headlined by Luke Brindley, an acoustic singer-songwriter with a keen ear for melody -- and, coincidentally, one of the Vienna rock club's co-owners. He'll be joined by a lineup of like-minded musicians, including Pretty Gritty.
"Open format" parties, which find DJs blending songs from any number of genres, continue to grow in number; the number of DJs with enough genre mastery to really pull one off does not. These days, it seems that most events consist of DJs awkwardly stringing together the biggest hits of different genres with no regard to a blend that makes sense. So when we see a party with Stereo Faith and DJ Face together, we take notice. Stereo Faith is one of D.C.'s most reliable party rockers, well-versed in everything from indie rock to Top 40. DJ Face is a classic hip-hop jock of the highest order. You can see how they bridge the gap between their styles at Vendetta's All Souls Eve party without paying a cover charge.
Saturday, November 2
Atlas Brew Works is hosting a special All Souls' Day Party on Nov. 2 that combines an open house and Halloween party. From 1 to 9 p.m., the doors of the Ivy City brewery will be open for tours and tastings, with pints of the house beers for $5 each, music by DJ Zo, snacks from the D.C. Sliders food truck and an 8 p.m. costume contest. (They've also arranged a deal with Uber to get everyone home safely: Use the code AtlasBrew for $20 off your first ride.)
Mad Fox Brewing Company's annual Cask Ale Festival features traditional cask ales from two dozen regional breweries, including Blue Mountain, Flying Dog, Three Notch'd and Legend. (There will also be three Mad Fox casks, including the Hardly Ordinary English-Style Ordinary Bitter.) Since cask ale is served without extra carbon dioxide and at a slightly warmer temperature than keg beer, it makes it easier to savor the beer's malty and hop character. There's no charge to attend the festival, held in the courtyard outside Mad Fox's Falls Church brewery beginning at noon, but drinkers get a commemorative tasting glass and six tickets for $20, with extra four-ounce samples for $2 each.
Not content with the huge Snallygaster festival earlier this month – or opening Bluejacket on Tuesday – the team behind Rustico has organized Novemberfest in the parking lot of its Alexandria restaurant. Expect dozens of fall beers on tap –- not just pumpkin ales, but harvest ales, stouts, hearty Belgian ales and rich IPAs. The food is just as robust: poutine, pulled pork and smoked turkey legs are among the choices. Gates open at noon, and early arrivals receive a Novemberfest koozie with the $5 admission.
As part of FotoWeek DC, a consortium of local photography organizations has set up a District-focused exhibit called FotoNOMA. (It's being held at a building in NoMa, you see.) FotoNOMA kicks off Saturday with a reception from 7 to 9:30 at the gallery at 51 N St. NE. Afterwards, the party moves over to the Black Cat's back stage, where DJs Matt Dunn (Liberation Dance Party) and the Kaiser (DC Soundclash and Taking the Piss) will spin while images from FotoNOMA are projected on the walls. Admission is $14 for the reception ($25 at the door, so get tickets in advance) or $10 for the after-party.
Sunday, November 3
Mixing hip-hop with jazz was once sacrilege, then oddity, and eventually trendy. But rarely has it been done well. It took an artist rooted in both traditions to make a cohesive-sounding, forward-thinking record that blends the two disciplines. That record was pianist Robert Glasper's 2012 breakout project "Black Radio." He was already five albums into his career when "Black Radio" was released, but it was the one that cracked the charts, hitting number one on Billboard Jazz and nabbing a Grammy for Best R&B album. On the eve of the release of "Black Radio 2," Glasper returns to D.C. with his Experiment band at the Birchmere.